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Hypertension is defined as blood pressure that is greater than 140/90 mm Hg (below 120/80 mm Hg is considered normal). There are two types of hypertension—primary (also called essential) and secondary (which includes endocrine hypertension). Most hypertension is the primary type. Its cause is unknown, but genetics and risk factors such as eating too much salt, being obese, and using tobacco, alcohol, and certain medications contribute to it. Primary hypertension usually responds well to lifestyle changes and blood pressure medications. Secondary hypertension requires a different type of treatment. It is a result of (secondary to) another condition, and so the underlying cause must be identified and treated.
Secondary hypertension can be caused by an adrenal gland disorder, most notably:
Renovascular hypertension is another form of secondary hypertension caused by a hormone imbalance. This occurs when the arteries that carry blood to the kidneys become narrow (usually due to plaque buildup) and less blood flows to the kidneys. The kidneys mistakenly respond as if blood pressure is low, and stimulate the release of hormones that raise blood pressure.
Having either too much thyroid hormone (called hyperthyroidism) or too little (hypothyroidism), or having too much parathyroid hormone (hyperparathyroidism), are other endocrine conditions that can contribute to secondary hypertension.
Some medications can cause secondary hypertension, including birth control pills, menopausal estrogen therapy, and corticosteroids—anti-inflammatory drugs that treat arthritis, asthma, and other chronic conditions.
Depending on its cause, secondary endocrine hypertension can be effectively treated by surgery or medications.